Campaign Response: Fuel Shortages

I have been contacted by constituents regarding Fuel Shortages.

As the Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes South, I have included below my response:

I want to stress that there is plenty of fuel in the refineries and in storage across the country. Over recent days, a significant spike in demand has caused temporary shortages at some petrol stations. Ministers are monitoring this situation extremely closely, but – given that overall fuel supplies within the country are fine – the best way to resolve this situation will be for people to only buy petrol when they need it, as they normally would.

The increased demand over recent days has been largely because of selective briefing of the media, which has caused unnecessary panic buying. Ministers are working closely with the industry to manage this short-term demand, including relaxing competition laws on a temporary basis to allow industry to prioritise the delivery of fuel to parts of the country most in need.

I am also aware that there are longer-term challenges within the wider HGV sector which ministers are working hard to tackle. Indeed, the Government announced a package of measures to tackle this shortage and ease pressure on industry through boosting skills, increasing testing availability and easing competition law. For example, £10 million will be invested to create new skills bootcamps and train up to 3,000 HGV drivers – with an additional 1,000 to be trained through local courses. The Government are also making available 5,000 visas for HGV drivers for a three-month period, to provide short-term relief for the haulage industry in the build up to Christmas.

These short-term visas reflect the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves this year. The pandemic meant that all HGV driver testing had to be shut down for months on end, which has created a bottleneck in the system. This temporary visa measure will give the industry time to get back on its feet, but ministers have been clear that the haulage companies must now invest in the British workforce – increasing pay and improving conditions – so that we have resilient, domestic labour market that does not require overseas workers in the long term.